, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 374-380
Date: 01 Aug 1999

Early Results of Laparoscopic Gastric Banding Compared with Open Vertical Banded Gastroplasty

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Background: The introduction of laparoscopy and the increasing awareness that surgery is the only efficient long-term treatment for morbid obesity have been followed by an enormous increase in the demand for bariatric surgery. We introduced laparoscopic gastric banding (GB) in 1995, after a 15-year experience with vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG). The aim of this article is to compare the early results of this new technique with those of VBG. Methods: The charts of all the patients who underwent VBG (group A) between 1981 and 1995 were reviewed. The data for the patients who underwent laparoscopic GB (group B) between December 1995 and March 1998 were collected prospectively. Weight loss was compared between groups. All the complications arising during follow-up in the laparoscopy group were considered for analysis. In the VBG group, the complications during the first 18 postoperative months were taken into consideration. Results: There were 197 patients in group A and 76 patients in group B. The ages and risk factors were similar in both groups, but the mean body weight (116 kg vs. 121 kg, P < 0.01) and the mean body mass index (BMI) (42.7 versus 45.5, P < 0.001) were significantly higher in the laparoscopy group. If the first 30 patients of group B are excluded, duration of surgery was not different between groups. Mortality was similar, but the postoperative morbidity was higher in the VBG group (23.8% vs. 8.0%, P < 0.005). The hospital stay was much shorter in group B. Weight loss was less after 6 and 12 months in group B but was similar after 18-24 months in both groups. During early follow-up as defined in the Methods section, overall morbidity and the need for reoperation were not different between groups. Most complications were noted among the first 30 patients operated on. Conclusions: Laparoscopic GB takes no longer to perform than VBG once the learning curve is over. It is associated with less postoperative morbidity and a much shorter hospital stay. Weight loss is slower after laparoscopic GB but is similar to that achieved after 18-24 months by VBG. With proper surgical technique, laparoscopic GB can be performed adequately with a very low rate of postoperative and long-term complications. Considering the high incidence of long-term complications after VBG, it is probable that laparoscopic GB will eventually replace VBG as the restrictive procedure of choice for morbid obesity.